First, I have to preface this entire blog post with the fact that writing for BellaOnline was an honour. I am grateful that they selected me to write for the site, and I learnt a lot from the experience.
I was signed up at the very end of January 2007, and have written for them for just over two years. Just a few days ago, I resigned from my site, and am no longer writing for them. My articles are still available on the Formula One section of BellaOnline but only until they are overwritten by the next editor. (I haven’t decided what to do with them yet.)
Secondly, (and here’s where I show off a little bit), this is a graph of the number of viewers per month starting in Feb 07 (my first full month) and ending in March 09 (my last full month).
There’s a gradual increase through the months until we hit October 08. That was quite possibly the best month in Formula 1 ever, and it doesn’t surprise me that the figures increased enormously. It was a surprise to find that they returned to that form after the winter break lull.
So… why stop writing?
BellaOnline has an amazing community of editors and writers who support and encourage the writing process. The whole aim of the site is to get women writing, train them up in content management systems, creating content, and meeting deadlines. The mission is for women to graduate from BellaOnline and move on to bigger things.
The one thing I felt was missing from the site is the interaction with the community as a whole. The readers, the viewers that make up the bars in the above graph - I rarely heard from them.
There are two access points for a visitor to BellaOnline and that is via the Editor Bio page - a contact form - and via the forums. I can’t remember the last time I ever used a contact form page to email someone, but I did receive a couple of messages that way.
For me, the forum is not a good way to promote feedback on articles. If your main goal is to discuss things, or if you want an addition to the site, then a forum is ideal. However, to not allow comments on the articles felt like a missing step to me. I did suggest it, at some point last year, but was told that if I spent more time on the forum, the community would build from there.
It never happened, as I never expected it would. One of the problems comes from the fact that Formula One is a niche market. If you visit BellaOnline, then chances are you might have something to say on goal-setting, or favourite foods, or computer issues. Formula One is only really open to those that already know about it or are determined to learn. It’s a flaw in the sport, I grant you, but putting the extra barrier of registering for a forum in front of people does limit the amount of feedback one is going to get.
In the two years I participated in the forum, 84 threads were started - just 5 of them by other people - and only 45 replies altogether. A large proportion of those, as well, came from a very kind friend who agreed to write some comments to try and encourage the conversation.
I imagine if comments were allowed on the articles themselves, then it would generate a lot more discussion.
That is the main reason I decided to leave, because once you have completed the process of learning the system and enjoyed meeting the deadlines for a while, there is little more to keep the motivation up. The site suggests that other editors have gone on to be signed up to write for other sites, become authors, and been sent products to review, things like that.
None of that happened to me, but that’s okay. I am mostly to blame for not immersing myself fully into the project, and treating it more as an interesting side project. That’s the other reason I decided to leave. It’s time that someone else was allowed to go through the process, and learn the tricks of the trade. I don’t want to hold that spot when there are plenty of other budding writers out there who perhaps don’t have other places to express themselves.
Therefore, this is just to say thanks to BellaOnline, I’ll miss writing for you, but I’ll check in from time to time.